BRAIN WAVES

Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

Valley Therapist Makes House Calls to Help People with Developmental Delays

East Valley Mental Health Counselor Julie Marsh, MA LPC, doesn’t just go the extra mile to help her patients— she actually goes to their homes.

From an early age, Marsh felt called to help others. Due to her own personal struggles in her youth, she is particularly empathic toward people who have suffered childhood traumas, both physical and emotional. “Nothing surprises me [regarding] what human beings can inflict upon each other,” she says. The resulting wounds often lead to substance abuse, anger management, bullying, depression, anxiety, and identity struggles.

“I really gain insight [by] going into their homes,” Marsh explains. “I see interaction with family members, how they relate, the environment.”

Julie, an ASU graduate, has a wide variety of therapies in her arsenal to combat these negative trauma-related effects. She uses expressive therapies to include art therapy, play therapy and sand tray therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other techniques to tailor individual treatment to those ranging in age from seven to 72, though the majority of her patients are children. Her primary goal is to improve the quality of life for everyone and anyone she works with.

“I really gain insight [by] going into their homes,” Marsh explains. “I see interaction with family members, how they relate, the environment.” This holistic approach allows her to get a more complete picture and develop tailor-made solutions.

Her biggest challenge involves working with those who have developmental delays, which is when childhood milestones aren’t reached within the expected timeframe. This normally includes difficulty communicating and socializing.

“I work predominantly with developmentally delayed people, which requires patience, repetition, and allowing plenty of time for understanding,” Marsh says. She goes on to identify the unique challenges faced by loved ones of those with such delays. “It puts a strain on the entire family. Some parents will work from home, but others can’t.”

The responsibility of parenthood may be ongoing when developmental delays are part of the picture, regardless of the child’s age. The constant demands for their attention and a heightened sense of vigilance can be exhausting for parents. “Families need to… attend meetings, know how and when to call a crisis team, when hospitalization is required, how to arrange transportation, [and] even take guardianship when the child reaches adulthood, all the time knowing how to react appropriately,” Marsh tells.

Her commitment to helping people is matched only by her respect for the parents. “I really admire these parents because these kids are very high-needs when it comes to social and emotional interactions.”

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ) shares Marsh’s admiration for family caregivers, especially as a non-profit whose origins are founded on parental grassroots involvement. “An often-overlooked question is, “who is caring for the caregiver?” says Brittany Sweeney-Lawson, BIAAZ Resource Facilitation Manager. “It’s important to secure reliable resources for them as well, because they live with their loved one’s disability too; they just experience it in a different way.”

For Marsh, the BIAAZ’s commitment to providing therapeutic resources to professionals, survivors of brain injury, and families alike helps fill a much-needed role. “It is so important for families to know what resources are available,” she shares. On a professional level, I find their conferences and programs very educational and informative.”

Recently, Julie Marsh attended the Brain Health Symposium, where she spent the day learning from various neuro specialists and professionals about emerging research and data for underserved populations, and received CEUs as part of her dedication to ongoing brain injury-related education.

For someone who has always loved community mental health, Marsh feels she is in the perfect position to help. “I’m very calm, patient and persistent,” she explains, which is exactly what her patients need.

BIAAZ Executive Director Carrie Collins-Fadell feels these programs are essential for professionals sharing the latest research. “Our community is always looking for more ways to help people with trauma and brain injury. I’m very happy that includes such a wide range of professionals like Julie Marsh.”

ABOUT BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF ARIZONA

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ) is the only statewide non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with brain injuries through prevention, advocacy, awareness, and education. What began in 1984 as a grassroots effort has grown into a strong statewide presence, providing valuable life-long resources and community support for individuals with brain injuries, caregivers, and the professionals who work with them.  

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona also works with the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force on legislation to make certain the behaviors of dishonorably discharged military service men and women are not caused by brain injury.  


For more information on living well after brain injury, contact the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Statewide Neuro Info-Line 888- 500-9165 or  info@biaaz.org 

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